Interdominion and Australian OK Dinghy Championships 2006
Belmont, NSW, Australia
Reports by Robert Deaves
Belmont 16ft Sailing Club, 7th - 10th February 2006
The 2006 OK Dinghy Australian and Interdominion Championships got underway at Belmont 16ft Sailing Club on Lake Macquarie, Australia with two testing races sailed in 20-25 knots. The previous day's sea breeze and blue skies had vanished overnight with the arrival of a 40 knots southerly that sent several OKs sailing round the dinghy park on their own, but by the time the racing had started, it had moderated to a gusty 20 knots. The entry includes 77 sailors from six nations.
Race one saw a good win for Russell Wood (NZL). Rounding the first mark behind fellow kiwi Mark Perrow, he showed superior upwind speed to win, followed by Roger Blasse (AUS) and the current world champion Nick Craig (GBR).
The second race was similar with a large shift at the start favouring those out of the pin. Wood led round the first mark followed by Craig and Perrow. Eventually Craig and Perrow were battling for the lead with Perrow leading most of the way. At the end though, there was barely a boatlength in it with Craig taking the bullet. Karl Purdie (NZL) sailed a great race to finish third.
Two bullets for Blasse
Roger Blasse (AUS) took the lead of the TOSHIBA 2006 OK Dinghy Australian and Interdominion Championships with two emphatic race wins in what can only be described as perfect sailing conditions on Lake Macquarie. The wind had moved round to the south east and gradually increased throughout the day from 12 knots at the start of race one to a gusty 20 by the end of race 2. The sailors were treated to some great Australian weather with wall-to-wall sunshine and temperatures into the 30s.
In race three Brett Holly (AUS) took in the left hand side of the course to find a nice shift to round the top mark in first place just ahead of Russell Wood (NZL), who came from the right, and Roger Blasse (AUS). Blasse went high on the first reach and took the lead, which he never let go. Wood held onto second place until the final beat when fourth placed Nick Craig (GBR) pulled through both him and Alistair Deaves (NZL) in the strengthening breeze.
For race four the breeze had increased to 20 knots, providing for some spectacular sailing and fast reaches. Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) was the early leader followed by Peter Horne (AUS) and Blasse. Horne led for two rounds before being overhauled by Blasse to take his second win of the day. Andre Blasse (AUS) also overtook Horbe to finish second with Horne holding onto third.
After four races and one drop, Blasse has a narrow lead over Craig, with the rest of the fleet some way behind. The conditions for day three look the same as day two with a strengthening sea breeze and high temperatures. There are three more races (two Thursday and one Friday) to decide the championship.
Blasse makes sure of title
After a short postponement to allow the wind to settle, races five and six of the TOSHIBA 2006 OK Dinghy Australian and Interdominion Championships provided more great racing in winds ranging from 15 to 25 knots and brilliant sunshine. A second and a fifth was enough to Roger Blasse to retain his National title and clinch the Interdominion title with a race to spare.
Race five started in 10-15 knots with Jorgen Lindhardtsen (DEN) emerging from the right of the course to round the first mark with a nice lead. After leading for most of the next lap, Russell Wood (NZL) ground him down in the increasing wind and went on to win the race. Series leader Roger Blasse (AUS) moved up to second place in front of Lindhardtsen right on the line.
The wind had increased even more for race six and proved to be too much for some who took an early shower. Steve Wilson (AUS) found himself leading round the first mark after a great start at the committee boat. However Andre Blasse (AUS) and Mark Perrow (NZL) were close on his heals. By the next lap it had become a two horse race with Blasse and Perrow battling for the lead. Eventually Blasse won by 30 seconds from Perrow with Greg Wilcox (NZL) sailing some excellent downwind legs to move up to third.
While brother Andre was winning the race, Roger Blasse was doing penalty turns after fouling starboard tack boats at the first windward mark. He dropped to the mid 20s, but his superior downwind speed in a breeze soon saw him back in the top 10, eventually fighting his way through to fifth, which was enough to take the series with a day to spare. His form this week in a breeze surely bodes well for the 1998 World Champion, Blasse as he prepares for next week’s world championship.
Russell Wood clinches second place
The final race of the 2006 TOSHIBA OK Dinghy Australian and Interdominion Championships was sailed in the lightest winds of the week, with large shifts coming through from both sides of the course. The overall title was already decided, but the other medal positions and top ten were wide open. Second and third placed overnight Russell Wood (NZL) and Nick Craig (GBR) were tied on 17 points with Andre Blasse (AUS) just four behind them, while just nine points separated fifth to ninth.
The wind had turned southerly again and the lighter winds at force 2-3 also brought the shiftiest conditions of the week. While the left seemed favoured most of the time, the right often looked good, bringing boats through the fleet. Those who opted for the middle took a gamble on finding one of the many large holes in the wind.
Both Craig and Wood started near the pin end and headed left, but Mark Williams (AUS) started the near committee boat and found a large shift to cross the fleet and lead round the first mark. He gradually extended his lead throughout the race to win by a considerable margin.
Behind him the battle for second place was turning into an epic. Wood rounded the first mark second after reaching in from the left side of the course in a large shift. Craig did the same and rounding about 12th. On the succeeding legs Craig gradually pulled through the boats to lead Wood round the final leeward mark. The final beat turned into a gruelling tacking dual between the two, with Craig looking to be in charge. However, within sight of the finish line he dropped his mainsheet and capsized to windward to let Wood through to take second overall. Mark Perrow (NZL) took advantage to finish third in the race with Andre Blasse in fourth. Craig finally finished fifth to make sure of third overall.
Roger Blasse finished in 9th place, but had already won the Australian Nationals for the 10th time and the Interdominions for the 4th time. The TOSHIBA OK Dinghy World Championships starts on Monday with the measurement of boats taking place over the weekend, allowing the sailors a well-deserved rest.